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***** - Alien Clay




They travelled into the unknown and left themselves behind . . .

On the distant world of Kiln lie the ruins of an alien civilization. It’s the greatest discovery in humanity’s spacefaring history – yet who were its builders and where did they go?

Professor Arton Daghdev had always wanted to study alien life up close. Then his wishes become a reality in the worst way. His political activism sees him exiled from Earth to Kiln’s extrasolar labour camp. There, he’s condemned to work under an alien sky until he dies.

Kiln boasts a ravenous, chaotic ecosystem like nothing seen on Earth. The monstrous alien life interacts in surprising, sometimes shocking ways with the human body, so Arton will risk death on a daily basis. However, the camp’s oppressive regime might just kill him first. If Arton can somehow escape both fates, the world of Kiln holds a wondrous, terrible secret. It will redefine life and intelligence as he knows it, and might just set him free . . .



I was a little apprehensive to read Alien Clay by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I had read one of his short stories; The Road to Aldebaran and absolutely loved it, but then when I tried one of his full-length books; The Doors of Eden, I had to DNF it after 3 attempts.

I really needn’t have worried - I thoroughly enjoyed Alien Clay and was hooked throughout. We are introduced to Arton Daghdev, a rebel professor who has been shipped off to a prison colony on a new planet for upsetting The Mandate. However, the planet of Kiln holds a secret and Arton should have been careful what he wished for when he said he wanted to study alien life up close and personal.

Although I found The Doors of Eden to be a little inaccessible due to the more traditional sci-fi nature of the text, Alien Clay is a more relatable and easy read, whilst still keeping the intelligent narrative voice of Tchaikovky. Arton is an interesting character, and everything is written from his perspective. There are some time jumps in the third part of the story, as we are treated to flashbacks interspersed with current events, but this works well to keep the tension high. The world building of the planet of Kiln is vast and detailed, and I could picture everything that was described which is sometimes an issue for me with Sci-Fi books.

Not wanting to give any spoilers, the last part of the book is brilliantly crafted, and I really enjoyed seeing the characters develop. Although the ending is a touch cliched, I think it was the only way it could have ended.

Overall, Alien Clay was a 5 star read for me and has made me want to explore more of Tchaikovsky’s writing. Thank you to NetGalley & Pan Macmillan – Tor for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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